Você está na página 1de 56

Python XML processing with lxml

John W. Shipman
2012-07-18 14:19

Abstract
Describes the lxml package for reading and writing XML files with the Python programming language. This publication is available in Web form1 and also as a PDF document2. Please forward any comments to tcc-doc@nmt.edu.

Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Python and XML ................................................................................................. 3 2. How ElementTree represents XML ........................................................................................ 3 3. Reading an XML document ...................................................................................................... 5 4. Handling multiple namespaces ................................................................................................. 6 4.1. Glossary of namespace terms .......................................................................................... 6 4.2. The syntax of multi-namespace documents ..................................................................... 7 4.3. Namespace maps .......................................................................................................... 8 5. Creating a new XML document ................................................................................................ 9 6. Modifying an existing XML document ..................................................................................... 10 7. Features of the etree module ................................................................................................. 10 7.1. The Comment() constructor ......................................................................................... 10 7.2. The Element() constructor ......................................................................................... 11 7.3. The ElementTree() constructor ................................................................................. 12 7.4. The fromstring() function: Create an element from a string ....................................... 13 7.5. The parse() function: build an ElementTree from a file ............................................. 14 7.6. The ProcessingInstruction() constructor ............................................................. 14 7.7. The QName() constructor ............................................................................................. 14 7.8. The SubElement() constructor ................................................................................... 15 7.9. The tostring() function: Serialize as XML ................................................................. 16 7.10. The XMLID() function: Convert text to XML with a dictionary of id values ................... 16 8. class ElementTree: A complete XML document ................................................................. 17 8.1. ElementTree.find() ............................................................................................... 17 8.2. ElementTree.findall(): Find matching elements ................................................... 17 8.3. ElementTree.findtext(): Retrieve the text content from an element ........................ 17 8.4. ElementTree.getiterator(): Make an iterator ....................................................... 18 8.5. ElementTree.getroot(): Find the root element ....................................................... 18 8.6. ElementTree.xpath(): Evaluate an XPath expression ............................................... 18 8.7. ElementTree.write(): Translate back to XML .......................................................... 18 9. class Element: One element in the tree ............................................................................... 19
1 2

http://www.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/pylxml/ http://www.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/pylxml/pylxml.pdf

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

9.1. Attributes of an Element instance ................................................................................ 9.2. Accessing the list of child elements ............................................................................... 9.3. Element.append(): Add a new element child ............................................................ 9.4. Element.clear(): Make an element empty ............................................................... 9.5. Element.find(): Find a matching sub-element .......................................................... 9.6. Element.findall(): Find all matching sub-elements ................................................. 9.7. Element.findtext(): Extract text content ................................................................. 9.8. Element.get(): Retrieve an attribute value with defaulting ........................................ 9.9. Element.getchildren(): Get element children ........................................................ 9.10. Element.getiterator(): Make an iterator to walk a subtree ................................... 9.11. Element.getroottree(): Find the ElementTree containing this element ............... 9.12. Element.insert(): Insert a new child element ......................................................... 9.13. Element.items(): Produce attribute names and values ............................................. 9.14. Element.iterancestors(): Find an element's ancestors ......................................... 9.15. Element.iterchildren(): Find all children ........................................................... 9.16. Element.iterdescendants(): Find all descendants ............................................... 9.17. Element.itersiblings(): Find other children of the same parent ........................... 9.18. Element.keys(): Find all attribute names ................................................................. 9.19. Element.remove(): Remove a child element ............................................................ 9.20. Element.set(): Set an attribute value ...................................................................... 9.21. Element.xpath(): Evaluate an XPath expression ...................................................... 10. XPath processing .................................................................................................................. 10.1. An XPath example ...................................................................................................... 11. The art of Web-scraping: Parsing HTML with Beautiful Soup ................................................... 12. Automated validation of input files ........................................................................................ 12.1. Validation with a Relax NG schema ............................................................................. 12.2. Validation with an XSchema (XSD) schema .................................................................. 13. etbuilder.py: A simplified XML builder module ............................................................... 13.1. Using the etbuilder module .................................................................................... 13.2. CLASS(): Adding class attributes ............................................................................ 13.3. FOR(): Adding for attributes .................................................................................... 13.4. subElement(): Adding a child element ..................................................................... 13.5. addText(): Adding text content to an element ........................................................... 14. Implementation of etbuilder ............................................................................................. 14.1. Features differing from Lundh's original ...................................................................... 14.2. Prologue .................................................................................................................... 14.3. CLASS(): Helper function for adding CSS class attributes ......................................... 14.4. FOR(): Helper function for adding XHTML for attributes ........................................... 14.5. subElement(): Add a child element .......................................................................... 14.6. addText(): Add text content to an element ................................................................ 14.7. class ElementMaker: The factory class ................................................................... 14.8. ElementMaker.__init__(): Constructor ................................................................ 14.9. ElementMaker.__call__(): Handle calls to the factory instance .............................. 14.10. ElementMaker.__handleArg(): Process one positional argument .......................... 14.11. ElementMaker.__getattr__(): Handle arbitrary method calls .............................. 14.12. Epilogue ................................................................................................................... 14.13. testetbuilder: A test driver for etbuilder .......................................................... 15. rnc_validate: A module to validate XML against a Relax NG schema .................................. 15.1. Design of the rnc_validate module ......................................................................... 15.2. Interface to the rnc_validate module ...................................................................... 15.3. rnc_validate.py: Prologue .................................................................................... 15.4. RelaxException .....................................................................................................

19 19 20 21 21 22 22 23 24 24 25 26 26 26 27 27 28 28 29 29 29 30 31 31 32 32 33 33 33 35 35 35 36 36 36 36 37 37 38 38 38 39 42 43 44 44 44 45 45 46 46 47

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

15.5. class RelaxValidator ......................................................................................... 15.6. RelaxValidator.validate() ............................................................................... 15.7. RelaxValidator.__init__(): Constructor ............................................................ 15.8. RelaxValidator.__makeRNG(): Find or create an .rng file .................................... 15.9. RelaxValidator.__getModTime(): When was this file last changed? ..................... 15.10. RelaxValidator.__trang(): Translate .rnc to .rng format ................................ 16. rnck: A standalone script to validate XML against a Relax NG schema ...................................... 16.1. rnck: Prologue ............................................................................................................ 16.2. rnck: main() ............................................................................................................. 16.3. rnck: checkArgs() ................................................................................................... 16.4. rnck: usage() ........................................................................................................... 16.5. rnck: fatal() ........................................................................................................... 16.6. rnck: message() ....................................................................................................... 16.7. rnck: validateFile() .............................................................................................. 16.8. rnck: Epilogue ............................................................................................................

47 48 48 49 51 51 52 52 53 54 54 55 55 55 56

1. Introduction: Python and XML


With the continued growth of both Python and XML, there is a plethora of packages out there that help you read, generate, and modify XML files from Python scripts. Compared to most of them, the lxml3 package has two big advantages: Performance. Reading and writing even fairly large XML files takes an almost imperceptible amount of time. Ease of programming. The lxml package is based on ElementTree, which Fredrik Lundh invented to simplify and streamline XML processing. lxml is similar in many ways to two other, earlier packages: Fredrik Lundh continues to maintain his original version of ElementTree4. xml.etree.ElementTree5 is now an official part of the Python library. There is a C-language version called cElementTree which may be even faster than lxml for some applications. However, the author prefers lxml for providing a number of additional features that make life easier. In particular, support for XPath makes it considerably easier to manage more complex XML structures.

2. How ElementTree represents XML


If you have done XML work using the Document Object Model (DOM), you will find that the lxml package has a quite different way of representing documents as trees. In the DOM, trees are build out of nodes represented as Node instances. Some nodes are Element instances, representing whole elements. Each Element has an assortment of child nodes of various types: Element nodes for its element children; Attribute nodes for its attributes; and Text nodes for textual content. Here is a small fragment of XHTML, and its representation as a DOM tree:

3 4

http://lxml.de/ http://effbot.org/zone/element-index.htm 5 http://docs.python.org/library/xml.etree.elementtree.html

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

<p>To find out <em>more</em>, see the <a href="http://www.w3.org/XML">standard</a>.</p> The above diagram shows the conceptual structure of the XML. The lxml view of an XML document, by contrast, builds a tree of only one node type: the Element. The main difference between the ElementTree view used in lxml, and the classical view, is the association of text with elements: it is very different in lxml. An instance of lxml's Element class contains these attributes: .tag The name of the element, such as "p" for a paragraph or "em" for emphasis. .text The text inside the element, if any, up to the first child element. This attribute is None if the element is empty or has no text before the first child element. .tail The text following the element. This is the most unusual departure. In the DOM model, any text following an element E is associated with the parent of E; in lxml, that text is considered the tail of E. .attrib A Python dictionary containing the element's XML attribute names and their corresponding values. For example, for the element <h2 class="arch" id="N15">, that element's .attrib would be the dictionary {"class": "arch", "id": "N15"}. (element children) To access sub-elements, treat an element as a list. For example, if node is an Element instance, node[0] is the first sub-element of node. If node doesn't have any sub-elements, this operation will raise an IndexError exception. You can find out the number of sub-elements using the len() function. For example, if node has five children, len(node) will return a value of 5. One advantage of the lxml view is that a tree is now made of only one type of node: each node is an Element instance. Here is our XML fragment again, and a picture of its representation in lxml.

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

<p>To find out <em>more</em>, see the <a href="http://www.w3.org/XML">standard</a>.</p> Notice that in the lxml view, the text ", see the\n" (which includes the newline) is contained in the .tail attribute of the em element, not associated with the p element as it would be in the DOM view. Also, the "." at the end of the paragraph is in the .tail attribute of the a (link) element. Now that you know how XML is represented in lxml, there are three general application areas. Section 3, Reading an XML document (p. 5). Section 5, Creating a new XML document (p. 9). Section 6, Modifying an existing XML document (p. 10).

3. Reading an XML document


Suppose you want to extract some information from an XML document. Here's the general procedure: 1. You'll need to import the lxml package. Here is one way to do it: from lxml import etree 2. Typically your XML document will be in a file somewhere. Suppose your file is named test.xml; to read the document, you might say something like: doc = etree.parse('test.xml') The returned value doc is an instance of the ElementTree class that represents your XML document in tree form. Once you have your document in this form, refer to Section 8, class ElementTree: A complete XML document (p. 17) to learn how to navigate around the tree and extract the various parts of its structure. For other methods of creating an ElementTree, refer to Section 7, Features of the etree module (p. 10).

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

4. Handling multiple namespaces


A namespace in XML is a collection of element and attribute names. For example, in the XHTML namespace we find element names like body, link and h1, and attribute names like href and align. For simple documents, all the element and attribute names in a single document may be in the namespace. In general, however, an XML document may include element and attribute names from many namespaces. See Section 4.1, Glossary of namespace terms (p. 6) to familiarize yourself with the terminology. Section 4.2, The syntax of multi-namespace documents (p. 7) discusses how namespaces are represented in an XML file.

4.1. Glossary of namespace terms


4.1.1. URI: Universal Resource Identifier
Formally, each namespace is named by a URI or Universal Resource Identifier. Although a URI often looks like a URL, there is an important difference: A URL (Universal Resource Locator) corresponds more or less to an actual Web page. If you paste a URL into your browser, you expect to get a Web page of some kind. A URI is just a unique name that identifies a specific conceptual entity. If you paste it into a browser, you may get a Web page or you may not; it is not required that the URI that defines a given namespace is also a URL.

4.1.2. NSURI: Namespace URI


Not all URIs define namespaces. The term NSURI, for NameSpace URI, is a URI that is used to uniquely identify a specific XML namespace.

Note
The W3C Recommendation Namespaces in XML 1.06 prefers the term namespace name for the more widely used NSURI. For example, here is the NSURI that identifies the XHTML 1.0 Strict dialect of XHTML: http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml

4.1.3. The blank namespace


Within a given document, one set of element and attribute names may not be referred to a specific namespace and its corresponding NSURI. These elements and attributes are said to be in the blank namespace. This is convenient for documents whose element and attribute names are all in the same namespace. It is also typical for informal and experimental applications where the developer does not want to bother defining an NSURI for the namespace, or hasn't gotten around to it yet.

http://www.w3.org/TR/xml-names/

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

For example, many XHTML pages use a blank namespace because all the names are in the same namespace and because browsers don't need the NSURI in order to display them correctly.

4.1.4. Clark notation


Each element and attribute name in a document is related to a specific namespace and its corresponding NSURI, or else it is in the blank namespace. In the general case, a document may specify the NSURI for each namespace; see Section 4.2, The syntax of multi-namespace documents (p. 7). Because the same name may occur in different namespaces within the same document, when processing the document we must be able to distinguish them. Once your document is represented as an ElementTree, the .tag attribute that specifies the element name of an Element contains both the NSURI and the element name using Clark notation, named after its inventor, James Clark7. When the NSURI of an element is known, the .tag attribute contains a string of this form: "{NSURI}name" For example, when a properly constructed XHTML 1.0 Strict document is parsed into an ElementTree, the .tag attribute of the document's root element will be: "{http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml}html"

Note
Clark notation does not actually appear in the XML source file. It is employed only within the ElementTree representation of the document. For element and attribute names in the blank namespace, the Clark notation is just the name without the {NSURI} prefix.

4.1.5. Ancestor
The ancestors of an element include its immediate parent, its parent's parent, and so forth up to the root of the tree. The root node has no ancestors.

4.1.6. Descendant
The descendants of an element include its direct children, its childrens' children, and so on out to the leaves of the document tree.

4.2. The syntax of multi-namespace documents


An XML document's external form uses namespace prefixes to distinguish names from different namespaces. Each prefix's NSURI must be defined within the document, except for the blank namespace if there is one. Here is a small fragment to give you the general idea:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Clark_(programmer)

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

<fo:inline font-style='italic' font-family='sans-serif'> <xsl:copy-of select="$content"/> </fo:inline> The inline element is in the XSL-FO namespace, which in this document uses the namespace prefix fo:. The copy-of element is in the XSLT namespace, whose prefix is xsl:. Within your document, you must define the NSURI corresponding to each namespace prefix. This can be done in multiple ways. Any element may contain an attribute of the form xmlns:P="NSURI", where P is the namespace prefix for that NSURI. Any element may contain attribute of the form xmlns="NSURI". This defines the NSURI associated with the blank namespace. If an element or attribute does not carry a namespace prefix, it inherits the NSURI of the closest ancestor element that does bear a prefix. Certain attributes may occur anywhere in any document in the xml: namespace, which is always defined. For example, any element may carry a xml:id attribute that serves to identify a unique element within the document. Here is a small complete XHTML file with all the decorations recommended by the W3C organization: <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" lang="en" xml:lang="en"> <head> <title>My page title</title> </head> <body> <h1>Hello world</h1> </body> </html> The xmlns attribute of the html element specifies that all its descendant elements are in the XHTML 1.0 Strict namespace. The xml:lang="en" attribute specifies that the document is in English. Here is a more elaborate example. This is the root element of an XSLT stylesheet. Prefix xsl: is used for the XSLT elements; prefix fo: is used for the XSL-FO elements; and a third namespace with prefix date: is also included. This document does not use a blank namespace. <xsl:stylesheet version="1.0" xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform" xmlns:fo="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Format" xmlns:date="http://exslt.org/dates-and-times">

4.3. Namespace maps


A namespace map is a Python dictionary that relates namespace prefixes to namespaces. The dictionary's keys are the namespace prefixes and each related value is the namespace's name as an NSURI.

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Namespace maps are used in several roles. When reading an XML file with multiple namespaces, you can use a namespace map in the process of searching for and retrieving elements and attributes from an ElementTree. See, for example, Section 9.5, Element.find(): Find a matching sub-element (p. 21). When creating a new XML document that has elements in multiple namespaces, you can use a namespace map to specify what namespace prefixes will appear when the ElementTree is serialized to XML form. See Section 7.2, The Element() constructor (p. 11) and Section 7.8, The SubElement() constructor (p. 15) for particulars. For example, at the end of Section 4.2, The syntax of multi-namespace documents (p. 7) there is an xsl:stylesheet start tag that defines xsl: as the prefix for the XSLT namespace, fo: for the XSLFO namespace, and date: for a date-and-time extension package. Here is a namespace map that describes those same relationships of prefixes to NSURIs: nsm = {"xsl": "xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform", "fo": "http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Format", "date": "http://exslt.org/dates-and-times"} To define the NSURI of the blank namespace, use an entry whose key is None. For example, this namespace map would define elements without a namespace as belonging to XHTML, and elements with namespace prefix xl: belong to the XLink8 namespace: nsm = {None: "http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml", "xl": "http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink"}

5. Creating a new XML document


If your program needs to write some output as an XML document, the lxml package makes this operation easy. 1. First import the lxml package. Here is one way: from lxml import etree 2. Create the root element. For example, suppose you're creating a Web page; the root element is html. Use the etree.Element() constructor to build that element. page = etree.Element('html') 3. Next, use the etree.ElementTree() constructor to make a new document tree, using our html element as its root: doc = etree.ElementTree(page) 4. The etree.SubElement() constructor is perfect for adding new child elements to our document. Here's the code to add a head element, and then a body as element, as new children of the html element: headElt = etree.SubElement(page, 'head') bodyElt = etree.SubElement(page, 'body')

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XLink

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

5. Your page will need a title element child under the head element. Add text to this element by storing a string in its .text attribute: title = etree.SubElement(headElt, 'title') title.text = 'Your page title here' 6. To supply attribute values, use keyword arguments to the SubElement() constructor. For example, suppose you want a stylesheet link inside the head element that looks like this: <link rel='stylesheet' href='mystyle.css' type='text/css'> This code would do it: linkElt = etree.SubElement(headElt, 'link', rel='stylesheet', href='mystyle.css', type='text/css') 7. Continue building your new document using the various functions described in Section 7, Features of the etree module (p. 10) and Section 9, class Element: One element in the tree (p. 19). 8. When the document is completely built, write it to a file using the ElementTree instance's .write() method, which takes a file argument. outFile = open('homemade.xml', 'w') doc.write(outFile)

6. Modifying an existing XML document


If your program needs to read in an XML document, modify it, and write it back out, this operation is straightforward with lxml. 1. Start by reading the document using the techniques from Section 3, Reading an XML document (p. 5). 2. Modify the document tree by adding, deleting, or replacing elements, attributes, text, and other features. For example, suppose your program has a variable linkNode that contains an Element instance representing an HTML a (hyperlink) element, and you want to change the value of its href attribute to point to a different URL, such as http://www.nmt.edu/. This code would do it: linkNode.attrib['href'] = 'http://www.nmt.edu/' 3. Finally, write the document back out to a file as described in Section 5, Creating a new XML document (p. 9).

7. Features of the etree module


The etree contains numerous functions and class constructors.

7.1. The Comment() constructor


To create a comment node, use this constructor:

10

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

etree.Comment(text=None) text The text to be placed within the comment. When serialized back into XML form, this text will be preceded by <!-- and followed by -->. Note that one space will be added around each end of the text you supply. The return value is an instance of the Comment class. Use the .append() method on the parent element to place the comment into your document. For example, suppose bodyElt is an HTML body element. To add a comment under this element containing string s, you would use this code: newComment = etree.Comment(s) bodyElt.append(newComment)

7.2. The Element() constructor


This constructor creates and returns a new Element instance. etree.Element(tag, attrib={}, nsmap=None, **extras) tag A string containing the name of the element to be created. attrib A dictionary containing attribute names and values to be added to the element. The default is to have no attributes. nsmap If your document contains multiple XML namespaces, you can supply a namespace map that defines the namespace prefixes you would like to use when this document is converted to XML. See Section 4.3, Namespace maps (p. 8). If you supply this argument, it will also apply to all descendants of the created node, unless the descendant node supplies a different namespace map. extras Any keyword arguments of the form name=value that you supply to the constructor are added to the element's attributes. For example, this code: newReed = etree.Element('reed', pitch='440', id='a4') will produce an element that looks like this: <reed pitch='440' id='a4'/> Here is an example of creation of a document with multiple namespaces using the nsmap keyword argument. #!/usr/bin/env python import sys from lxml import etree as et HTML_NS XSL_NS = = "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd" "http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform"

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

11

NS_MAP = {None: HTML_NS, "xsl": XSL_NS} rootName = et.QName(XSL_NS, 'stylesheet') root = et.Element(rootName, nsmap=NS_MAP) sheet = et.ElementTree(root) top = et.SubElement(root, et.QName(XSL_NS, "template"), match='/') html = et.SubElement(top, et.QName(HTML_NS, "html")) head = et.SubElement(html, "head") title = et.SubElement(head, "title") title.text = "Heading title" body = et.SubElement(html, "body") h1 = et.SubElement(body, "h1") h1.text = "Body heading" p = et.SubElement(body, "p") p.text = "Paragraph text" sheet.write(sys.stdout, pretty_print=True) When this root element is serialized into XML, it will look something like this: <xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> <xsl:template match="/"> <html> <head> <title>Heading title</title> </head> <body> <h1>Body heading</h1> <p>Paragraph text</p> </body> </html> </xsl:template> </xsl:stylesheet> There is one minor pathology of this constructor. If you pass in a pre-constructed dictionary as the attrib argument, and you also supply keyword arguments, the values of the keyword arguments will be added into that dictionary as if you had used the .update() method on the attrib dictionary. Here is a conversational example showing this side effect: >>> from lxml import etree >>> d = { 'name': 'Clem', 'clan': 'bozo' } >>> clownElt = etree.Element('clown', d, attitude='bad') >>> d {'clan': 'bozo', 'attitude': 'bad', 'name': 'Clem'} >>> etree.tostring(clownElt) '<clown clan="bozo" attitude="bad" name="Clem"/>' >>>

7.3. The ElementTree() constructor


To create a new, empty document, use this constructor. It returns a new ElementTree instance.

12

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

etree.ElementTree(element=None, file=None) element An Element instance to be used as the root element. file To construct an ElementTree that represents an existing file, pass either a writeable file object, or a string containing the name of the file. Do not use the element argument; if you do, the file argument will be ignored. For example, to transform a file named balrog.xml into an ElementTree, use this statement: balrogTree = etree.ElementTree(file='balrog.xml') Exceptions that can be raised by this constructor include: IOError If the file is nonexistent or unreadable. etree.XMLSyntaxError If the file is readable, but its contents are not well-formed XML. The returned exception value has an .error_log attribute that you can display to find out where in the file errors occurred. Here is an example: >>> try: ... bad = etree.fromstring("<a>\n<<oops>\n</a>") ... except etree.XMLSyntaxError, detail: ... pass ... >>> detail <etree.XMLSyntaxError instance at 0xb7eba10c> >>> detail.error_log <string>:2:FATAL:PARSER:ERR_NAME_REQUIRED: StartTag: invalid element name <string>:3:FATAL:PARSER:ERR_TAG_NAME_MISMATCH: Opening and ending tag mismatch: oops line 2 and a <string>:3:FATAL:PARSER:ERR_TAG_NOT_FINISHED: Premature end of data in tag a line 1 >>>

7.4. The fromstring() function: Create an element from a string


You can create an element or tree of elements from a string containing XML with this function; it returns a new Element instance representing all that XML. etree.fromstring(s) where s is a string. Here's an example: >>> milne = '''<monster name='Heffalump'> ... <trail>Woozle</trail> ... <eeyore mood='boggy'/> ... </monster>'''

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

13

>>> doc = etree.fromstring(milne) >>> print etree.tostring(doc) <monster name="Heffalump"> <trail>Woozle</trail> <eeyore mood="boggy"/> </monster> >>>

7.5. The parse() function: build an ElementTree from a file


The quickest way to convert an XML file into an ElementTree is to use this function: etree.parse(source) where source is the name of the file, or a file object containing the XML. If the file is well-formed, the function returns an ElementTree instance. Exceptions raised include: IOError The file is nonexistent or not readable. etree.XMLSyntaxError The file is readable, but does not contain well-formed XML. The returned exception contains an .error_log attribute that you can print to see where the error occurred. For an example of the display of the error_log, see Section 7.3, The ElementTree() constructor (p. 12).

7.6. The ProcessingInstruction() constructor


To add an XML processing instruction to your document, use this constructor. It returns a new ProcessingInstruction instance; to place this into a tree, pass that instance to the parent element's .append() method. etree.ProcessingInstruction(target, text=None): target A string containing the target portion of the processing instruction. text An optional string containing the rest of the processing instruction. The default value is empty. Here's an example: pi = etree.ProcessingInstruction('decor', 'danish,modern,ducksOnWall') When converted back to XML, this processing instruction would look like this: <?decor danish,modern,ducksOnWall?>

7.7. The QName() constructor


When you are working with multiple namespaces, the QName object is useful for combining the namespace URI part with the local name part. A QName instance can be used for the name part of attributes that are in a different namespace than their containing element.

14

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Although it is not legal in XML element names, there is a convention called Clark notation (after James Clark) that combines these two parts in a string of this form: {nsURI}local To construct a new QName instance, use a statement of this general form: etree.QName(text, tag=none) If the fully qualified element name is already in Clark notation, call the QName constructor with this argument alone. If you would like to pass the namespace URI and the local name separately, call QName with the namespace URI as the text argument, and the local name as the tag argument. Here are two examples for creating a QName instance representing a qualified name in the XSLT namespace with a local name of template: In Clark notation: qn = etree.QName("{http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform}template") With the namespace URI and local name supplied separately: qn = etree.QName("http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform", "template")

7.8. The SubElement() constructor


This is a handy constructor that accomplishes the two basic operations in adding an element to a tree: creating a new Element instance, and adding that new Element as the next child of its parent element. Here is the general form: SubElement(parent, tag, attrib={}, nsmap=None, **extras): The first argument, parent, is the Element instance under which the newly created Element instance is to be added as its next child. The tag, attrib, nsmap, and **extras arguments work exactly the same as they do in the call to Element() described in Section 7.2, The Element() constructor (p. 11). The return value is the newly constructed Element. Here's an example. Suppose you want to build this XML: <state name="New Mexico"> <county name="Socorro"> <ppl name="Luis Lopez"/> </county> </state> Here's the code to build it, and then display it, interactively: >>> >>> >>> >>> st=etree.Element('state', name='New Mexico') co=etree.SubElement(st, 'county', name='Socorro') ppl=etree.SubElement(co, 'ppl', name='Luis Lopez') print etree.tostring(st)

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

15

<state name="New Mexico"><county name="Socorro"><ppl name="Luis Lopez"/> </county></state> >>>

7.9. The tostring() function: Serialize as XML


To convert an Element and its content back to XML, use a function call of this form: etree.tostring(elt, pretty_print=False, encoding=None) where elt is an Element instance. The function returns a string containing the XML. For an example, see Section 7.8, The SubElement() constructor (p. 15). If you set the optional pretty_print argument to True, the method will attempt to insert line breaks to keep line lengths short where possible. To output Unicode, use the keyword argument encoding=unicode.

7.10. The XMLID() function: Convert text to XML with a dictionary of id values
To convert XML in the form of a string into an Element structure, use Section 7.4, The fromstring() function: Create an element from a string (p. 13). However, there is a similar function named etree.XMLID() that does this and also provides a dictionary that allows you to find elements in a tree by their unique id attribute values. The XML standard stipulates that any element in any document can have an id attribute, but each value of this attribute must be unique within the document. The intent of this feature is that applications can refer to any element using its id value. Here is the general form for this function: etree.XMLID(text) The return value is a tuple (E, D), where: E is the converted XML as an Element instance rooting the converted tree, just as if you had called etree.fromstring(text). D is a dictionary whose keys are the values of id attributes in the converted tree, and each corresponding value is the Element instance that carried that id value. Here's a small example script: #!/usr/bin/env python from lxml import etree SOURCE = '''<dog id="Fido"> Woof! <cat id="Fluff">Mao?</cat> <rhino id="ZR"/> </dog>''' tree, idMap = etree.XMLID(SOURCE) for id in sorted(idMap.keys()):

16

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

elt = idMap[id].text or "(none)" print "Tag {0}, text is '{1}'".format(id, elt.strip()) And its output: Tag Fido, text is 'Woof!' Tag Fluff, text is 'Mao?' Tag ZR, text is '(none)'

8. class ElementTree: A complete XML document


Once you have used the etree.ElementTree constructor to instantiate an XML document, you can use these methods on that instance.

8.1. ElementTree.find()
ET.find(path[, namespaces=D]) This method is used to find a specific single element in the document. It is essentially equivalent to calling the .find() method on the document's root element; see Section 9.5, Element.find(): Find a matching sub-element (p. 21). For example, if doc is an ElementTree instance, this call: doc.find('h1') is equivalent to: doc.getroot().find('h1')

8.2. ElementTree.findall(): Find matching elements


Given some ElementTree instance ET, this method will return a sequence of zero or more Elements that match the pattern specified by the path argument. ET.findall(path[, namespaces=N]) This method works exactly the same as calling the .findall() method on the document's root element. See Section 9.6, Element.findall(): Find all matching sub-elements (p. 22).

8.3. ElementTree.findtext(): Retrieve the text content from an element


To retrieve the text inside some element, use this method on some ElementTree instance ET: ET.findtext(path[, default=None][, namespaces=N]) This method is essentially the same as calling the .findtext() method on the document's root element; see Section 9.7, Element.findtext(): Extract text content (p. 22).

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

17

8.4. ElementTree.getiterator(): Make an iterator


In many applications, you will want to visit every element in a document, or perhaps to retrieve information from all the tags of a certain kind. This method, on some ElementTree instance ET, will return an iterator that visits all matching tags. ET.getiterator(tag=None) If you omit the argument, you will get an iterator that generates every element in the tree, in document order. If you want to visit only tags with a certain name, pass that name as the argument. Here are some examples. In these examples, assume that page is an ElementTree instance that contains an XHTML page. The first example would print every tag name in the page, in document order. for elt in page.getiterator(): print elt.tag

The second example would look at every div element in the page, and for those that have a class attribute, it prints those attributes. for elt in page.getiterator('div'): if elt.attrib.has_key('class'): print elt.get('class')

8.5. ElementTree.getroot(): Find the root element


To obtain the root element of a document contained in an ElementTree instance ET, use this method call: ET.getroot() The return value will normally be the Element instance at the root of the tree. However, if you have created your ElementTree instance without specifying either a root element or an input file, this method will return None.

8.6. ElementTree.xpath(): Evaluate an XPath expression


For an ElementTree instance ET, use this method call to evaluate an XPath expression s, using the tree's root element as the context node. ET.xpath(s) This methods returns the result of the XPath expression. For a general discussion of XPath, see Section 10, XPath processing (p. 30).

8.7. ElementTree.write(): Translate back to XML


To serialize (convert to XML) the content of a document contained in some ElementTree instance ET, use this method call: ET.write(file, pretty_print=False)

18

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

You must supply a writeable file object, or the name of a file to be written. If you set argument pretty_print=True, the method will attempt to fold long lines and indent the XML for legibility. For example, if you have an ElementTree instance in a variable page containing an XHTML page, and you want to write it to the standard output stream, this statement would do it: import sys page.write(sys.stdout)

9. class Element: One element in the tree


Each XML element is represented by an instance of the Element class. See Section 9.1, Attributes of an Element instance (p. 19) for attributes of an Element instance in the Python sense, as opposed to XML attributes. See Section 9.2, Accessing the list of child elements (p. 19) for the various ways to access the element children of an element. The various methods on Element instances follow in alphabetical order, starting with Section 9.3, Element.append(): Add a new element child (p. 20).

9.1. Attributes of an Element instance


Each instance of the Element class has these attributes. .tag The element's name. .attrib A dictionary containing the element's attributes. The keys are the attribute names, and each corresponding value is the attribute's value. .tail The text following this element's closing tag, up to the start tag of the next sibling element. If there was no text there, this attribute will have the value None. This way of associating text with elements is not really typical of the way most XML processing models work; see Section 2, How ElementTree represents XML (p. 3). .text The text inside the element, up to the start tag of the first child element. If there was no text there, this attribute will have the value None.

9.2. Accessing the list of child elements


In many ways, an Element instance acts like a Python list, with its XML child elements acting as the members of that list. You can use the Python len() function to determine how many children an element has. For example, if node is an Element instance with five element children, len(node) will return the value 5. You can add, replace, or delete children of an element using regular Python list operations. For example, if an Element instance node has three child elements, node[0] is the first child, and node[2] is the third child.

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

19

In the examples that follow, assume that E is an Element instance. E[i] returns the child element of E at position i, if there is one. If there is no child element at that position, this operation raises an IndexError exception. E[i:j] returns a list of the child elements between positions i and j. For example, node[2:4] returns a list containing the third and fourth children of node. You can replace one child of an element E with a new element c using a statement of this form: E[i] = c If i is not the position of an existing child, this operation will raise an IndexError. You can replace a sequence of adjacent children of an element E using slice assignment: E[i:j] = seq where seq is a sequence of Element instances. If the slice [i:j] does not specify an existing set of children, this operation will raise an IndexError exception. You can delete one child of an element like this: del E[i] where i is the index of that child. You can delete a slice out of the list of element children like this: del E[i:j] You can iterate over the children of an element with a for loop. For example, if node is an Element instance, this code would print the tags of all its children: for kid in node: print kid.tag Not all children of an element are themselves elements. Processing instructions are instances of class etree._ProcessingInstruction. Comments are instances of class etree._Comment. If you need to test whether a given child node is a processing instruuction or a comment, you can use Python's built-in function isinstance(I, C), which tests whether an object I is an instance of a class or subclass of class C. For instance, to test whether node is a comment, you can use this test, which returns True if node is a comment, False otherwise. issubclass(node, etree._Comment)

9.3. Element.append(): Add a new element child


To add a new child c to an element E, use this method: E.append(c)

20

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

You can use this method to add Comment and ProcessingInstruction instances as children of an element, as well as Element instances. Here is a conversational example: >>> st = etree.Element("state", name="New Mexico") >>> etree.tostring(st) '<state name="New Mexico"/>' >>> co = etree.Element("county", name="Socorro") >>> st.append(co) >>> etree.tostring(st) '<state name="New Mexico"><county name="Socorro"/></state>' >>> rem = etree.Comment("Just another day in paradise.") >>> st.append(rem) >>> etree.tostring(st) '<state name="New Mexico"><county name="Socorro"/><!-- Just another day in paradise. --></state>' >>>

9.4. Element.clear(): Make an element empty


Calling the .clear() method on an Element instance removes all its content: All values are removed from the .attrib dictionary. The .text and .tail attributes are both set to None. Any child elements are deleted.

9.5. Element.find(): Find a matching sub-element


You can search for sub-elements of an Element instance E using this method call: E.find(path[, namespaces=D]) This method searches the Element and its descendants for a single element that fits the pattern described by the path argument. If there is exactly one matching element, this method returns that element as an Element instance. If there are multiple matching elements, the method returns the one that appears first in document order. If there are no matching elements, it returns None. The path argument is a string describing the element for which you are searching. Possible values include: "tag" Find the first child element whose name is "tag". "tag1/tag2/.../tagn" Find the first child element whose name is tag1; then, under that child element, find its first child named tag2; and so forth. For example, if node is an Element instance that has an element child with a tag "county", and that child in turn has an element child with tag "seat", this expression will return the Element corresponding to the "seat" element:

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

21

node.find("county/seat") The optional namespaces argument is a namespace map; see Section 4.3, Namespace maps (p. 8). If supplied, this map is used to interpret namespace prefixes in the path argument. For example, suppose you have an element someNode, and you want to find a child element named roundtable in the namespace named http://example.com/mphg/, and under that you want to find a child element named knight in the namespace named http://example.org/sirs/ns/. This call would do it: nsd = {'mp': 'http://example.com/mphg/', 'k': 'http://example.org/sirs/ns/'} someNode.find('mp:roundtable/k:knight', namespaces=nsd} Note that the namespace prefixes you define in this way do not need to have any particular value, or to match the namespace prefixs that might be used for these NSURIs in some document's external form.

Warning
The namespaces keyword argument to the .find() method is available only for version 2.3.0 or later of etree.

9.6. Element.findall(): Find all matching sub-elements


This method returns a list of descendants of the element that match a pattern described by the path argument. E.findall(path[, namespaces=N]) The way that the path argument describes the desired set of nodes works the same ways as the path argument described in Section 9.5, Element.find(): Find a matching sub-element (p. 21). For example, if an article element named root has zero or more children named section, this call would set sectionList to a list containing Element instances representing those children. sectionList = root.findall('section') The optional namespaces keyword argument allows you to specify a namespace map. If supplied, this namespace map is used to interpret namespace prefixes in the path; see Section 9.5, Element.find(): Find a matching sub-element (p. 21) for details.

Warning
The namespaces keyword argument is available only since release 2.3.0 of lxml.etree.

9.7. Element.findtext(): Extract text content


To find the text content inside a specific element, call this method, where E is some ancestor of that element: E.findtext(path, default=None, namespaces=N)

22

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

The path argument specifies the desired element in the same way as does the path argument in Section 9.5, Element.find(): Find a matching sub-element (p. 21). If any descendants of E exist that match the given path, this method returns the text content of the first matching element. If the there is at least one matching element but it has no text content, the returned value will be the empty string. If no elements match the specified path, the method will return None, or the value of the default= keyword argument if you provided one. Here's a conversational example. >>> from lxml import etree >>> node=etree.fromstring('<a><b>bum</b><b>ear</b><c/></a>') >>> node.findtext('b') 'bum' >>> node.findtext('c') '' >>> node.findtext('c', default='Huh?') '' >>> print node.findtext('x') None >>> node.findtext('x', default='Huh?') 'Huh?' The optional namespaces keyword argument allows you to specify namespace prefixes for multinamespace documents; for details, see Section 9.5, Element.find(): Find a matching sub-element (p. 21).

9.8. Element.get(): Retrieve an attribute value with defaulting


There are two ways you can try to get an attribute value from an Element instance. See also the .attrib dictionary in Section 9.1, Attributes of an Element instance (p. 19). The .get() method on an Element instance also attempts to retrieve an attribute value. The advantage of this method is that you can provide a default value that is returned if the element in question does not actually have an attribute by the given name. Here is the general form, for some Element instance E. E.get(key, default=None) The key argument is the name of the attribute whose value you want to retrieve. If E has an attribute by that name, the method returns that attribute's value as a string. If E has no such attribute, the method returns the default argument, which itself has a default value of None. Here's an example: >>> from lxml import etree >>> node = etree.fromstring('<mount species="Jackalope"/>') >>> print node.get('species') Jackalope >>> print node.get('source')

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

23

None >>> print node.get('source', 'Unknown') Unknown >>>

9.9. Element.getchildren(): Get element children


For an Element instance E, this method returns a list of all E's element children: E.getchildren() Here's an example: >>> xml = '''<corral><horse n="2"/><cow n="17"/> ... <cowboy n="2"/></corral>''' >>> pen = etree.fromstring(xml) >>> penContents = pen.getchildren() >>> for content in penContents: ... print "%-10s %3s" % (content.tag, content.get("n", "0")) ... horse 2 cow 17 cowboy 2 >>>

9.10. Element.getiterator(): Make an iterator to walk a subtree


Sometimes you want to walk through all or part of a document, looking at all the elements in document order. Similarly, you may want to walk through all or part of a document and look for all the occurrences of a specific kind of element. The .getiterator() method on an Element instance produces a Python iterator that tells Python how to visit elements in these ways. Here is the general form, for an Element instance E: E.getiterator(tag=None) If you omit the argument, you will get an iterator that visits E first, then all its element children and their children, in a preorder traversal of that subtree. If you want to visit only elements with a certain tag name, pass the desired tag name as the argument. Preorder traversal of a tree means that we visit the root first, then the subtrees from left to right (that is, in document order). This is also called a depth-first traversal: we visit the root, then its first child, then its first child's first child, and so on until we run out of descendants. Then we move back up to the last element with more children, and repeat. Here is an example showing the traversal of an entire tree. First, a diagram showing the tree structure:

24

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

A preorder traversal of this tree goes in this order: a, b, c, d, e. >>> >>> >>> >>> ... ... a b >>> xml = '''<a><b><c/><d/></b><e/></a>''' tree = etree.fromstring(xml) walkAll = tree.getiterator() for elt in walkAll: print elt.tag, c d e

In this example, we visit only the bird nodes. >>> xml = '''<bio> ... <bird type="Bushtit"/> ... <butterfly type="Mourning Cloak"/> ... <bird type="Mew Gull"/> ... <group site="Water Canyon"> ... <snake type="Sidewinder"/> ... <bird type="Verdin"/> ... </group> ... <bird type="Pygmy Nuthatch"/> ... </bio>''' >>> root = etree.fromstring(xml) >>> for elt in root.getiterator('bird'): ... print elt.get('type', 'Unknown') ... Bushtit Mew Gull Verdin Pygmy Nuthatch >>> Note in the above example that the iterator visits the Verdin element even though it is not a direct child of the root element.

9.11. Element.getroottree(): Find the ElementTree containing this element


For any Element instance E, this method call returns the ElementTree instance that contains E: E.getroottree()

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

25

9.12. Element.insert(): Insert a new child element


Use the .insert() method on an Element instance E to add a new element child elt in an arbitrary position. (To append a new element child at the last position, see Section 9.3, Element.append(): Add a new element child (p. 20).) E.insert(index, elt) The index argument specifies the position into which element elt is inserted. For example, if you specify index 0, the new child will be inserted before any other children of E. The lxml module is quite permissive about the values of the index argument: if it is negative, or greater than the position of the last existing child, the new child is added after all existing children. Here is an example showing insertions at positions 0 and 2. >>> node = etree.fromstring('<a><c0/><c1/><c2/></a>') >>> newKid = etree.Element('c-1', laugh="Hi!") >>> node.insert(0, newKid) >>> etree.tostring(node) '<a><c-1 laugh="Hi!"/><c0/><c1/><c2/></a>' >>> newerKid = etree.Element('cn') >>> node.insert(2, newerKid) >>> etree.tostring(node) '<a><c-1 laugh="Hi!"/><c0/><cn/><c1/><c2/></a>' >>>

9.13. Element.items(): Produce attribute names and values


For any Element instance E, the .items() method returns the attributes as if they were a dictionary and you had called the .items() method on that dictionary: the result is a list of two-element tuples (name, value), one for each XML attribute of E. Attribute values are returned in no particular order. Here's an example. >>> node = etree.fromstring("<event time='1830' cost='3.50' rating='nc-03'/>") >>> node.items() [('cost', '3.50'), ('time', '1830'), ('rating', 'nc-03')] >>>

9.14. Element.iterancestors(): Find an element's ancestors


The ancestors of an element are its parent, its parent's parent, and so on up to the root element of the tree. For any Element instance E, this method returns an iterator that visits E's ancestors in reverse document order: E.iterancestors(tag=None) If you omit the argument, the iterator will visit all ancestors. If you wish to visit only ancestors with a specific tag name, pass that tag name as an argument. Examples:

26

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

>>> xml = '''<class sci='Aves' eng='Birds'> ... <order sci='Strigiformes' eng='Owls'> ... <family sci='Tytonidae' eng='Barn-Owls'> ... <genus sci='Tyto'> ... <species sci='Tyto alba' eng='Barn Owl'/> ... </genus> ... </family> ... </order> ... </class>''' >>> root = etree.fromstring(xml) >>> barney = root.xpath('//species') [0] >>> print "%s: %s" % (barney.get('sci'), barney.get('eng')) Tyto alba: Barn Owl >>> for ancestor in barney.iterancestors(): ... print ancestor.tag, genus family order class >>> for fam in barney.iterancestors('family'): ... print "%s: %s" % (fam.get('sci'), fam.get('eng')) Tytonidae: Barn-Owls

9.15. Element.iterchildren(): Find all children


For an Element instance E, this method returns an iterator that iterates over all of E's children. E.iterchildren(reversed=False, tag=None) Normally, the resulting iterator will visit the children in document order. However, if you pass reversed=True, it will visit them in the opposite order. If you want the iterator to visit only children with a specific name N, pass an argument tag=N. Example: >>> root=et.fromstring("<mom><aaron/><betty/><clarence/><dana/></mom>") >>> for kid in root.getchildren(): ... print kid.tag aaron betty clarence dana >>> for kid in root.iterchildren(reversed=True): ... print kid.tag ... dana clarence betty aaron >>>

9.16. Element.iterdescendants(): Find all descendants


The term descendants refers to an element's children, their children, and so on all the way to the leaves of the document tree.

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

27

For an Element instance E, this method returns an iterator that visits all of E's descendants in document order. E.iterdescendants(tag=None) If you want the iterator to visit only elements with a specific tag name N, pass an argument tag=N. Example: >>> ... ... ... ... ... ... >>> >>> >>> ... dad >>> xml = '''<root> <grandpa> <dad> <yuo/> </dad> </grandpa> </root>''' root = etree.fromstring(xml) you = root.xpath('.//yuo')[0] for anc in you.iterancestors(): print anc.tag, grandpa root

9.17. Element.itersiblings(): Find other children of the same parent


For any Element instance E, this method returns an iterator that visits all of E's siblings, that is, the element children of its parent, in document order, but omitting E. E.itersiblings(preceding=False) If the preceding argument is false, the iterator will visit the siblings following E in document order. If you pass preceding=True, the iterator will visit the siblings that precede E in document order. Example: >>> root=etree.fromstring( ... "<mom><aaron/><betty/><clarence/><dana/></mom>") >>> betty=root.find('betty') >>> for sib in betty.itersiblings(preceding=True): ... print sib.tag ... aaron >>> for sib in betty.itersiblings(): ... print sib.tag ... clarence dana >>>

9.18. Element.keys(): Find all attribute names


For any Element instance E, this method returns a list of the element's XML attribute names, in no particular order.

28

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

E.keys() Here's an example: >>> node = etree.fromstring("<event time='1830' cost='3.50' rating='nc-03'/>") >>> node.keys() ['time', 'rating', 'cost'] >>>

9.19. Element.remove(): Remove a child element


To remove an element child C from an Element instance E, use this method call. E.remove(C) If C is not a child of E, this method will raise a ValueError exception.

9.20. Element.set(): Set an attribute value


To create or change an attribute named A to value V in an Element instance E, use this method: E.set(A, V) Here's an example. >>> node = etree.Element('div', id='u401') >>> etree.tostring(node) '<div id="u401"/>' >>> node.set('class', 'flyer') >>> etree.tostring(node) '<div id="u401" class="flyer"/>' >>> node.set('class', 'broadside') >>> etree.tostring(node) '<div id="u401" class="broadside"/>' >>> This method is one of two ways to create or change an attribute value. The other method is to store values into the .attrib dictionary of the Element instance.

9.21. Element.xpath(): Evaluate an XPath expression


To evaluate an XPath expression s using some Element instance E as the context node: E.xpath(s[, namespaces=N][, var=value][, ...]) For a general discussion of the use of XPath, see Section 10, XPath processing (p. 30). s An XPath expression to be evaluated. N A namespace map that relates namespace prefixes to NSURIs; see Section 4.3, Namespace maps (p. 8). The namespace map is used to interpret namespace prefixes in the XPath expression.

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

29

var=value You may use additional keyword arguments to define the values of XPath variables to be used in the evaluation of s. For example, if you pass an argument count=17, the value of variable $count in the XPath expression will be 17. The returned value may be any of: A list of zero or more selected Element instances. A Python bool value for true/false tests. A Python float value for numeric results. A string for string results.

10. XPath processing


One of the most significant advantages of the lxml package over the other ElementTree-style packages is its support for the full XPath language. XPath expressions give you a much more powerful mechanism for selecting and retrieving parts of a document, compared to the relatively simple path syntax used in Section 8.1, ElementTree.find() (p. 17). If you are not familiar with XPath, see these sources: XSLT reference9, specifically the section entitled XPath reference10. The standard, XML Path Language (XPath), Version 1.011. Keep in mind that every XPath expression is evaluated using three items of context: The context node is the starting point for any operations whose meaning is relative to some point in the tree. The context size is the number of elements that are children of the context node's parent, that is, the context node and all its siblings. The context position is the context node's position relative to its siblings, counting the first sibling as position 1. You can evaluate an XPath expression s by using the .xpath(s) method on either an Element instance or an ElementTree instance. See Section 9.21, Element.xpath(): Evaluate an XPath expression (p. 29) and Section 8.6, ElementTree.xpath(): Evaluate an XPath expression (p. 18). Depending on the XPath expression you use, these .xpath() methods may return one of several kinds of values: For expressions that return a Boolean value, the .xpath() method will return True or False. Expressions with a numeric result will return a Python float (never an int). Expressions with a string result will return a Python str (string) or unicode value. Expressions that produce a list of values, such as node-sets, will return a Python list. Elements of this list may in turn be any of several types: Elements, comments, and processing instructions will be represented as lxml Element, Comment, and ProcessingInstruction instances. Text content and attribute values are returned as Python str (string) instances. Namespace declarations are returned as a two-tuple (prefix, namespaceURI).

http://www.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/xslt/ http://www.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/xslt/xpath-sect.html 11 http://www.w3.org/TR/xpath


10

30

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

For further information on lxml's XPath features, see XML Path Language (XPath)12.

10.1. An XPath example


Here is an example of a situation where an XPath expression can save you a lot of work. Suppose you have a document with an element called para that represents a paragraph of text. Further suppose that your para has a mixed-content model, so its content is a free mixture of text and several kinds of inline markup. Your application, however, needs to extract just the text in the paragraph, discarding any and all tags. Using just the classic ElementTree interface, this would require you to write some kind of function that recursively walks the para element and its subtree, extracting the .text and .tail attributes at each level and eventually gluing them all together. However, there is a relatively simple XPath expression that does all this for you: descendant-or-self::text() The descendant-or-self:: is an axis selector that limits the search to the context node, its children, their children, and so on out to the leaves of the tree. The text() function selects only text nodes, discarding any elements, comments, and other non-textual content. The return value is a list of strings. Here's an example of this expression in practice. >>> node=etree.fromstring('''<a> ... a-text <b>b-text</b> b-tail <c>c-text</c> c-tail ... </a>''') >>> alltext = node.xpath('descendant-or-self::text()') >>> alltext ['\n a-text ', 'b-text', ' b-tail ', 'c-text', ' c-tail\n'] >>> clump = "".join(alltext) >>> clump '\n a-text b-text b-tail c-text c-tail\n' >>>

11. The art of Web-scraping: Parsing HTML with Beautiful Soup


Web-scraping13 is a technique for extracting data from Web pages. If everyone on the World Wide Web used valid XHTML, this would be easy. However, in the real world, the vast majority of Web pages use something you could call tag soup14theoretically HTML, but in reality often an unstructured mixture of tags and text. Fortunately, the lxml module includes a package called BeautifulSoup15 that attempts to translate tag soup into a tree just as if it came from a valid XHTML page. Naturally this process is not perfect, but there is a very good chance that the resulting tree will have enough predictable structure to allow for automated extraction of the information in it. Import the BeautifulSoup module like this:

12 13 14

http://www.w3.org/TR/xpath http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_scraping http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_soup 15 http://lxml.de/elementsoup.html

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

31

from lxml.html import soupparser There are two functions in this module. soupparser.parse(input) The input argument specifies a Web page's HTML source as either a file name or a file-like object. The return value is an ElementTree instance whose root element is an html element as an Element instance. soupparser.fromstring(s) The s argument is a string containing some tag soup. The return value is a tree of nodes representing s. The root node of this tree will always be an html element as an Element instance.

12. Automated validation of input files


What happens to your application if you read a file that does not conform to the schema? There are two ways to deal with error handling. If you are a careful and defensive programmer, you will always check for the presence and validity of every part of the XML document you are reading, and issue an appropriate error message. If you aren't careful or defensive enough, your application may crash. It can make your application a lot simpler if you mechanically validate the input file against the schema that defines its document type. With the lxml module, the latter approach is inexpensive both in programming effort and in runtime. You can validate a document using either of these major schema languages: Section 12.1, Validation with a Relax NG schema (p. 32). Section 12.2, Validation with an XSchema (XSD) schema (p. 33).

12.1. Validation with a Relax NG schema


The lxml module can validate a document, in the form of an ElementTree, against a schema expressed in the Relax NG notation. For more information about Relax NG, see Relax NG Compact Syntax (RNC)16. A Relax NG schema can use two forms: the compact syntax (RNC), or an XML document type (RNG). If your schema uses RNC, you must translate it to RNG format. The trang utility does this conversion for you. Use a command of this form: trang file.rnc file.rng Once you have the schema available as an .rng file, use these steps to valid an element tree ET. 1. 2. Parse the .rng file into its own ElementTree, as described in Section 7.3, The ElementTree() constructor (p. 12). Use the constructor etree.RelaxNG(S) to convert that tree into a schema instance, where S is the ElementTree instance, containing the schema, from the previous step. If the tree is not a valid Relax NG schema, the constructor will raise an etree.RelaxNGParseError exception. 3. Use the .validate(ET) method of the schema instance to validate ET.

16

http://www.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/rnc/

32

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

This method returns 1 if ET validates against the schema, or 0 if it does not. If the method returns 0, the schema instance has an attribute named .error_log containing all the errors detected by the schema instance. You can print .error_log.last_error to see the most recent error detected. Presented later in this document are two examples of the use of this validation technique: Section 15, rnc_validate: A module to validate XML against a Relax NG schema (p. 45). Section 16, rnck: A standalone script to validate XML against a Relax NG schema (p. 52).

12.2. Validation with an XSchema (XSD) schema


To validate a document against a schema written in the XSchema language, follow the steps shown in Section 12.1, Validation with a Relax NG schema (p. 32), with one variation. Instead of using etree.RelaxNG() to parse your schema tree S, use etree.XMLSchema(S).

13. etbuilder.py: A simplified XML builder module


If you are building a lot of XML, it can be somewhat cumbersome to take several lines of code to build a single element. For elements with text content, you'll write a lot of two-line sequences like this: mainTitle = et.Element('h1') mainTitle.text = "Welcome to Your Title Here!" The brilliant and productive Fredrik Lundh has written a very nice module called builder.py that makes building XML a lot easier. See Lundh's original page, An ElementTree Builder17, for an older version of his module, with documentation and examples. You may wish to use the current version of builder.py from Lundh's SVN repository page18. The author has written a modified version based heavily on Lundh's version. The source for this etbuilder.py module is available online19. For the instructions for use of the author's version, see Section 13.1, Using the etbuilder module (p. 33). For the actual implementation in lightweight literate programming form20, see Section 14, Implementation of etbuilder (p. 36).

13.1. Using the etbuilder module


Instead of importing the ElementTree package as et, use this importation: from etbuilder import et, E The name E is a factory object that creates et.Element instances.

17 18 19

http://effbot.org/zone/element-builder.htm http://svn.effbot.org/public/stuff/sandbox/elementlib/ http://www.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/pylxml/etbuilder.py 20 http://www.nmt.edu/~shipman/soft/litprog/

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

33

Here is the calling sequence for E: E(tag, *p, **kw) The first argument, tag, is the element's name as a string. The return value is a new et.Element instance. You can supply any number of positional arguments p, followed by any number of keyword arguments. The interpretation of each argument depends on its type. The displays with >>> prompts are interactive examples. Any keyword argument of the form name=value becomes an XML attribute name='value' of the new element. >>> colElt=E('col', valign='top', align='left') >>> et.tostring(colElt) '<col align="left" valign="top" />' String arguments are added to the content of the tag. >>> p14 = E("p", "Welcome to ", "Your Paragraph Here.") >>> et.tostring(p14) '<p>Welcome to Your Paragraph Here.</p>' An argument of type int is converted to a string and added to the tag's content. If you pass a dictionary to the factory, its members also become XML attributes. For instance, you might create an XHTML table cell element like this: >>> cell = E('td', {'valign': 'top', 'align': 'right'}, 14) >>> et.tostring(cell) '<td align="right" valign="top">14</td>' You can pass in an et.Element instance, and it becomes a child element of the element being built. This allows you to nest calls within calls, like this: >>> head = E('head', ... E('title', 'Your Page Title Here'), ... E('link', rel='stylesheet', href='/tcc/style.css')) >>> print et.tostring(head, pretty_print=True) <head> <title>Your Page Title Here</title> <link href="/tcc/style.css" rel="stylesheet" /> </head> This module has one more nice wrinkle. If the name of the tag you are creating is also a valid Python name, you can use that name as the name of a method call on the E instance. That is, E.name(...) is functionally equivalent to E("name", ...) Here is an example:

34

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

>>> head = E.head( ... E.title('Your title'), ... E.link(rel='stylesheet', href='/tcc/style.css')) >>> print et.tostring(head, pretty_print=True) <head> <title>Your title</title> <link href="/tcc/style.css" rel="stylesheet" /> </head>

13.2. CLASS(): Adding class attributes


One of the commonest operations is to attach a class attribute to an XML tag. For instance, suppose you want to generate this content: <div class='warning'> Your brain may not be the boss! </div> The obvious way to do this does not work: E.div("Your brain may not be the boss!", class='warning') # Fails!

Because class is a reserved word in Python, you can't use it as an argument keyword. Therefore, the package includes a helper function named CLASS() that takes one or more names as arguments, and returns a dictionary that can be passed to the E() constructor to add a class= attribute with the argument value. This example does work to generate the above XML: E.div("Your brain may not be the boss!", CLASS('warning')) Here's another example, this time with multiple class names. E.span(CLASS('ref', 'index'), "Pie, whole.") This generates: <span class='ref index'>Pie, whole.</span> # Works.

13.3. FOR(): Adding for attributes


This function is similar to the one defined in Section 13.2, CLASS(): Adding class attributes (p. 35): it is used to attach an attribute to an element whose name (for) is a Python reserved word. Such attributes are commonly used to link an XHTML label element to a form element.

13.4. subElement(): Adding a child element


This function combines the two common operations of creating an element and adding it as the next child of some parent node. The general calling sequence is: subNode = subElement(parent, child) This function adds child as the next child of parent, and returns the child.

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

35

13.5. addText(): Adding text content to an element


This convenience function handles the special logic used to add text content to an ElementTree-style node. The problem is that if the node does not have any children, the new text is appended to the node's .text attribute, but if there are any children, the new text must be appended to the .tail attribute of the last child. Refer to Section 2, How ElementTree represents XML (p. 3) for a discussion of why this is necessary. Here is the general calling sequence to add some text string s to an existing node: addText(node, s)

14. Implementation of etbuilder


Here is the author's etbuilder.py module, with narrative.

14.1. Features differing from Lundh's original


The author's version differs from Lundh's version in these respects: It requires the lxml package. Lundh's version did not use lxml; it uses cElementTree, or elementtree if that is not available. It requires Python 2.5 or later. Lundh's version will work with earlier versions, probably back to at least 2.2. The author's version also permits int values in the call to the E instance.

14.2. Prologue
The module begins with a comment pointing back to this documentation, and acknowledging Fredrik Lundh's work.
etbuilder.py

"""etbuilder.py: An element builder for lxml.etree ================================================================ $Revision: 1.52 $ $Date: 2012/07/18 20:19:15 $ ================================================================ For documentation, see: http://www.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/pylxml/ Borrows heavily from the work of Fredrik Lundh; see: http://effbot.org/zone/ """ The et module is lxml.etree.
etbuilder.py

#================================================================ # Imports #---------------------------------------------------------------from lxml import etree as et

36

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

The functools.partial() function21 is used to curry a function call in Section 14.11, ElementMaker.__getattr__(): Handle arbitrary method calls (p. 44). However, the functools module is new in Python 2.5. In order to make this module work in a Python 2.4 install, we will anticipate a possible failure to import functools, providing that functionality with a substitute partial() function. This function is stolen directly from the Python Library Reference22.
etbuilder.py

try: from functools import partial except ImportError: def partial(func, *args, **keywords): def newfunc(*fargs, **fkeywords): newkeywords = keywords.copy() newkeywords.update(fkeywords) return func(*(args + fargs), **newkeywords) newfunc.func = func newfunc.args = args newfunc.keywords = keywords return newfunc

14.3. CLASS(): Helper function for adding CSS class attributes


Next comes the definition of the CLASS() helper function discussed in Section 13.2, CLASS(): Adding class attributes (p. 35).
etbuilder.py

# - - -

C L A S S

def CLASS(*names): '''Helper function for adding 'class=...' attributes to tags. [ names is a list of strings -> return a dictionary with one key 'class' and the related value the concatenation of (names) with one space between them ] ''' return {'class': ' '.join(names)}

14.4. FOR(): Helper function for adding XHTML for attributes


etbuilder.py

# - - -

F O R

def FOR(id): '''Helper function for adding 'for=ID' attributes to tags. ''' return {'for': id}

21 22

http://docs.python.org/library/functools.html http://docs.python.org/library/functools.html

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

37

14.5. subElement(): Add a child element


See Section 13.4, subElement(): Adding a child element (p. 35).
etbuilder.py

# - - -

s u b E l e m e n t

def subElement(parent, child): '''Add a child node to the parent and return the child. [ (parent is an Element) and (child is an Element with no parent) -> parent := parent with child added as its new last child return child ] ''' #-- 1 -parent.append(child) #-- 2 -return child

14.6. addText(): Add text content to an element


See Section 13.5, addText(): Adding text content to an element (p. 36). To simplify the caller's job, we do nothing if s is None, as may be the case with the .text or .tail attribute of an et.Element.
etbuilder.py

# - - -

a d d T e x t

def addText(node, s): '''Add text content to an element. [ (node is an Element) and (s is a string) -> if node has any children -> last child's .tail +:= s else -> node.text +:= s ] ''' #-- 1 -if not s: return #-- 2 -if len(node) == 0: node.text = (node.text or "") + s else: lastChild = node[-1] lastChild.tail = (lastChild.tail or "") + s

14.7. class ElementMaker: The factory class


The name E that the user imports is not a class. It is a factory object, that is, an instance of the ElementMaker factory class.

38

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

etbuilder.py

# - - - - -

c l a s s

E l e m e n t M a k e r

class ElementMaker(object): '''ElementTree element factory class Exports: ElementMaker(typeMap=None): [ (typeMap is an optional dictionary whose keys are type objects T, and each corresponding value is a function with calling sequence f(elt, item) and generic intended function [ (elt is an et.Element) and (item has type T) -> elt := elt with item added ]) -> return a new ElementMaker instance that has calling sequence E(*p, **kw) and intended function [ p[0] exists and is a str -> return a new et.Element instance whose name is p[0], and remaining elements of p become string content of that element (for types str, unicode, and int) or attributes (for type dict, and members of kw) or children (for type et.Element), plus additional handling from typeMap if it is provided ] and allows arbitrary method calls of the form E.tag(*p, **kw) with intended function [ return a new et.Element instance whose name is (tag), and elements of p and kw have the same effects as E(*(p[1:]), **kw) ] ''' For a discussion of intended functions and the Cleanroom software development methodology, see the author's Cleanroom page23. You can use the optional typeMap argument to provide logic to handle types other than the ones defined in Section 13.1, Using the etbuilder module (p. 33). Refer to the constructor for a discussion of the internal state item .__typeMap and how it works in element construction.

14.8. ElementMaker.__init__(): Constructor


The factory instance returned by the ElementMaker constructor must look at the type of each of its positional arguments in order to know what to do with it. Python's dictionary type makes this easy to do: we use a dictionary whose keys are Python type objects. Each of the corresponding values in this dictionary is a function that can be called to process arguments of that type. The dictionary is a private attribute .__typeMap, and all the constructor does is set this dictionary up.

23

http://www.nmt.edu/~shipman/soft/clean/

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

39

The functions that process arguments all have this generic calling sequence: f(elt, item) where elt is the et.Element being built, and item is the argument to be processed. The first step is to initialize the .__typeMap dictionary. In most cases, the user will be satisfied with the type set described in Section 13.1, Using the etbuilder module (p. 33). However, as a convenience, Lundh's original builder.py design allows the caller to supply a dictionary of additional typefunction pairs as an optional argument; in that case, we will copy the supplied dictionary as the initial value of self.__typeMap.
etbuilder.py

# - - -

E l e m e n t M a k e r . _ _ i n i t _ _

def __init__(self, typeMap=None): '''Constructor for the ElementMaker factory class. ''' #-- 1 -# [ if typeMap is None -> # self.__typeMap := a new, empty dictionary # else -> # self.__typeMap := a copy of typeMap ] if typeMap is None: self.__typeMap = {} else: self.__typeMap = typeMap.copy() The first types we'll need to handle are the str and unicode types. These types will use a function we define locally named addText(). Adding text to an element in the ElementTree world has two cases. If the element has no children, the text is added to the element's .text attribute. If the element has any children, the new text is added to the last child's .tail attribute. See Section 2, How ElementTree represents XML (p. 3) for a review of text handling.
etbuilder.py

#-- 2 -# [ self.__typeMap[str], self.__typeMap[unicode] := # a function with calling sequence # addText(elt, item) # and intended function # [ (elt is an et.Element) and # (item is a str or unicode instance) -> # if elt has no children and elt.text is None -> # elt.text := item # else if elt has no children -> # elt.text +:= item # else if elt's last child has .text==None -> # that child's .text := item # else -> # that child's .text +:= item ] def addText(elt, item): if len(elt): elt[-1].tail = (elt[-1].tail or "") + item else: elt.text = (elt.text or "") + item self.__typeMap[str] = self.__typeMap[unicode] = addText

40

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Lundh's original module did not handle arguments of type int, but this ability is handy for many common tags, such as <table border='8'>, which becomes E.table(border=8). A little deviousness is required here. The addInt() function can't call the addText() function above directly, because the name addText is bound to that function only inside the constructor. The instance does not know that name. However, we can assume that self.__typeMap[str] is bound to that function, so we call it from there.
etbuilder.py

#-- 3 -# [ self.__typeMap[str], self.__typeMap[unicode] := # a function with calling sequence # addInt(elt, item) # and intended function # [ (elt is an et.Element) and # (item is an int instance) -> # if elt has no children and elt.text is None -> # elt.text := str(item) # else if elt has no children -> # elt.text +:= str(item) # else if elt's last child has .text==None -> # that child's .text := str(item) # else -> # that child's .text +:= str(item) ] def addInt(elt, item): self.__typeMap[str](elt, str(item)) self.__typeMap[int] = addInt The next type we need to handle is dict. Each key-value pair from the dictionary becomes an XML attribute. For user convenience, if the value is not a string, we'll use the str() function on it, allowing constructs like E({border: 1}).
etbuilder.py

#-- 4 -# [ self.__typeMap[dict] := a function with calling # sequence # addDict(elt, item) # and intended function # [ (elt is an et.Element) and # (item is a dictionary) -> # elt := elt with an attribute made from # each key-value pair from item ] def addDict(elt, item): for key, value in item.items(): if isinstance(value, basestring): elt.attrib[key] = value else: elt.attrib[key] = str(value) self.__typeMap[dict] = addDict

Note
In Lundh's original, the last line of the previous block was the equivalent of this:

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

41

elt.attrib[key] = \ self.__typeMap[type(value)](None, value) I'm not entirely sure what he had in mind here. If you have any good theories, please forward them to <tcc-doc@nmt.edu>. Next up is the handler for arguments that are instances of et.Element. We'll actually create an et.Element to be sure that self.__typeMap uses the correct key.
etbuilder.py

#-- 5 -# [ self.__typeMap[type(et.Element instances)] := a # function with calling sequence # addElt(elt, item) # and intended function # [ (elt and item are et.Element instances) -> # elt := elt with item added as its next # child element ] def addElement(elt, item): elt.append(item) sample = et.Element('sample') self.__typeMap[type(sample)] = addElement

14.9. ElementMaker.__call__(): Handle calls to the factory instance


This method is called when the user calls the factory instance E.
etbuilder.py

# - - -

E l e m e n t M a k e r . _ _ c a l l _ _

def __call__(self, tag, *argList, **attr): '''Handle calls to a factory instance. ''' First we create a new, empty element with the given tag name.
etbuilder.py

#-- 1 -# [ elt := a new et.Element with name (tag) ] elt = et.Element(tag) If the attr dictionary has anything in it, we can use the function stored in self.__typeMap[dict] to process those attributes.
etbuilder.py

#-- 2 -# [ elt := elt with attributes made from the key-value # pairs in attr ] # else -> I ] if attr: self.__typeMap[dict](elt, attr) Next, process the positional arguments in a loop, using each argument's type to extract from self.__typeMap the proper handler for that type. For this logic, see Section 14.10, ElementMaker.__handleArg(): Process one positional argument (p. 43).

42

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

etbuilder.py

#-# [ # # # # for

3 -if the types of all the members of pos are also keys in self.__typeMap -> elt := elt modified as per the corresponding functions from self.__typeMap else -> raise TypeError ] arg in argList: #-- 3 body -# [ if type(arg) is a key in self.__typeMap -> # elt := elt modified as per self.__typeMap[type(arg)] # else -> raise TypeError ] self.__handleArg(elt, arg)

Finally, return the shiny new element to the caller.


etbuilder.py

#-- 4 -return elt

14.10. ElementMaker.__handleArg(): Process one positional argument


This method processes one of the positional arguments when the factory instance is called.
etbuilder.py

# - - -

E l e m e n t M a k e r . _ _ h a n d l e A r g

def __handleArg(self, elt, arg): '''Process one positional argument to the factory instance. [ (elt is an et.Element) -> if type(arg) is a key in self.__typeMap -> elt := elt modified as per self.__typeMap[type(arg)] else -> raise TypeError ] ''' As a convenience, if the caller passes some callable object, we'll call that object and use its result. Otherwise we'll use the object itself. (This is another Lundh feature, the utility of which I don't fully understand.)
etbuilder.py

#-- 1 -# [ if arg is callable -> # value := arg() # else -> # value := arg ] if callable(arg): value = arg() else: value = arg Next we look up the value's type in self.__typeMap, and call the corresponding function.
etbuilder.py

#-- 2 -# [ if type(value) is a key in self.__typeMap ->

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

43

# elt := elt modified as per self.__typeMap[type(value)] # else -> raise TypeError ] try: handler = self.__typeMap[type(value)] handler(elt, value) except KeyError: raise TypeError("Invalid argument type: %r" % value)

14.11. ElementMaker.__getattr__(): Handle arbitrary method calls


This method is called whenever the caller invokes an undefined method of a factory instance. It implements the feature that you can use an element name as a method name so that E.tag(...) is the equivalent of E(tag, ...). The method is a one-liner, but it's a rather abstruse one-liner for anyone that has never studied functional programming. See the functools.partial documentation24. The method returns a callable object that acts the same as a call to the factory instance, except with tag inserted before its other positional arguments. The Wikipedia article on currying25 explains this technique in depth.
etbuilder.py

# - - -

E l e m e n t M a k e r . _ _ g e t a t t r _ _

def __getattr__(self, tag): '''Handle arbitrary method calls. [ tag is a string -> return a new et.Element instance whose name is (tag), and elements of p and kw have the same effects as E(*(p[1:]), **kw) ] ''' return partial(self, tag)

14.12. Epilogue
The last step is to create the factory instance E.
etbuilder.py

# - - - - E =

m a i n

ElementMaker()

14.13. testetbuilder: A test driver for etbuilder


Here is a small script that exercises the etbuilder module. This script generates a small XHTML page that looks like this: <html> <head>
24 25

http://docs.python.org/library/functools.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Currying

44

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

<title>Sample page<title> <link href="/tcc/style.css" rel="stylesheet"/> </head> <body> <h1 class='big-title'>Sample page title</h1> <p>A paragraph containing a <a href='http://www.nmt.edu/' >link to the NMT homepage</a>.</p> </body> </html> The script follows.
testetbuilder

#!/usr/bin/env python from __future__ import print_function from etbuilder import E, et, CLASS page = E.html( E.head( E.title("Sample page"), E.link(href='/tcc/style.css', rel='stylesheet')), E.body( E.h1(CLASS('big-title'), "Sample page title"), E.p("A paragraph containing ", 1, " ", E.a("link to the NMT homepage", href='http://www.nmt.edu/'), "."))) print(et.tostring(page, pretty_print=True, encoding=unicode), end='')

15. rnc_validate: A module to validate XML against a Relax NG schema


Here we present a Python module to validate XML files against a Relax NG schema using the techniques described in Section 12, Automated validation of input files (p. 32).

15.1. Design of the rnc_validate module


This module will work from a schema file in either Relax NG Compact Form (.rnc) or XML syntax (.rng). However, because lxml's validation machinery cannot read .rnc files directly, our module must take its input from an .rng file. If the schema file name ends in .rnc, we make these assumptions: If there is an .rng file with the same basename as the .rnc, and provided that it is up-to-date (with a newer file modification timestamp), we will use the .rng version. If there is no corresponding .rng version, or if the .rng file is out of date, we assume that the trang26 utility is locally installed. This utility can translate from .rnc to .rng format. We also assume that we have write access so that we can create or recreate the .rng file.
26

http://www.thaiopensource.com/relaxng/trang.html

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

45

15.2. Interface to the rnc_validate module


Our module rnc_validate.py exports this interface. RelaxException An exception class that inherits from Python's standard Exception class. This exception will be raised when an XML file is found not to be valid against the given Relax NG schema. The str() function, applied to an instance of this exception, returns a textual description of the validity error. RelaxValidator(schemaPath) This class constructor takes one argument, a path name to a schema in either .rnc or .rng format. Assuming that the situation meets all the assumptions enumerated in Section 15.1, Design of the rnc_validate module (p. 45), it returns a new RelaxValidator instance that can be used to validate XML files against that schema. If anything goes wrong, the constructor raises a ValueError exception. This can happen for several reasons, for example: failure to read the schema; failure to write the .rng file if translating from .rnc format; if the .rng file is not well-formed or not a valid Relax NG schema. RV.validate(tree) For a RelaxValidator instance RV, this method takes as its argument an ElementTree instance containing an XML document. If that document is valid against the schema, this method returns None. If there is a validation problem, it raises RelaxException.

15.3. rnc_validate.py: Prologue


The actual code for this module starts here, with the customary documentation string, which points back to this documentation. The block also contains Cleanroom27 intended function notation for the interface described above.
rnc_validate.py

'''rnc_validate.py: An XML validator for Relax NG schemas. For documentation, see: http://www.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/pylxml/ Exports: class RelaxException(Exception) class RelaxValidator RelaxValidator(schemaPath): [ schemaPath is a string -> if schemaPath names a readable, valid .rng schema -> return a RelaxValidator that validates against that schema else if (schemaPath, with .rnc appended if there is no extension, names a readable, valid .rnc schema) -> if the corresponding .rng schema is readable, valid, and newer than the .rnc schema -> return a RelaxValidator that validates against the .rng schema else if (we have write access to the corresponding .rng schema) and (trang is locally installed) -> corresponding .rng schema := trang's translation of the .rnc schema into .rng return a RelaxValidator that validates against the
27

http://www.nmt.edu/~shipman/soft/clean/

46

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

translated schema else -> raise ValueError ] .validate(tree): [ tree is an etree.ElementTree -> if tree validates against self -> I else -> raise RelaxException ] ''' Next come module imports. We need the standard Python os and stat modules to check file modification times.
rnc_validate.py

# - - - - import os import stat

I m p o r t s

We import the lxml module's etree implementation but call it et.


rnc_validate.py

from lxml import etree as et The pexpect28 module is a third-party library for spawning and controlling subprocesses. We need it to run trang.
rnc_validate.py

import pexpect We'll need two constants for the characteristic file suffixes.
rnc_validate.py

# - - - - -

M a n i f e s t

c o n s t a n t s

RNC_SUFFIX = '.rnc' RNG_SUFFIX = '.rng'

15.4. RelaxException
This pro-forma exception is used to signal validity problem.
rnc_validate.py

# - - - - -

c l a s s

R e l a x E x c e p t i o n

class RelaxException(Exception): pass

15.5. class RelaxValidator


Within an instance of this class, we keep one internal state item, the RelaxNG instance representing the .rng schema.

28

http://www.noah.org/wiki/Pexpect

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

47

rnc_validate.py

# - - - - -

c l a s s

R e l a x V a l i d a t o r

class RelaxValidator(object): '''Represents an XML validator for a given Relax NG schema. State/Invariants: .__schema: [ an etree.RelaxNG instance representing the effective schema ] '''

15.6. RelaxValidator.validate()
This method passes the ElementTree to the .validate() method of the stored RelaxNG instance, which returns a bool value, True iff the tree is valid. We translate a False return value to an exception.
rnc_validate.py

# - - -

R e l a x V a l i d a t o r . v a l i d a t e

def validate(self, tree): '''Validate tree against self. ''' if not self.__schema.validate(tree): raise RelaxException(self.__schema.error_log)

15.7. RelaxValidator.__init__(): Constructor


The first step is to remove the file suffix so we know which kind of schema we're using, and then derive the full path names of both the .rnc and .rng (potential) versions of the schema.
rnc_validate.py

# - - -

R e l a x V a l i d a t o r . _ _ i n i t _ _

def __init__(self, schemaPath): '''Constructor. ''' #-- 1 -# [ basePath := schemaPath without its extension # suffix := schemaPath's extension, defaulting to RNC_SUFFIX # cName := (schemaPath without its extension)+RNC_SUFFIX # gName := (schemaPath without its extension)+RNG_SUFFIX ] basePath, suffix = os.path.splitext(schemaPath) if suffix == '': suffix = RNC_SUFFIX gName = basePath + RNG_SUFFIX cName = basePath + RNC_SUFFIX If the desired schema is in .rng form, we're ready to proceed. If it is an .rnc schema, though, we need an .rng version that is up to date. See Section 15.8, RelaxValidator.__makeRNG(): Find or create an .rng file (p. 49). If the file suffix isn't either, that's an error.

48

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

rnc_validate.py

#-- 2 -# [ if suffix == RNG_SUFFIX -> # I # else if (file cName is readable) and (gName names a # readable file that is newer than cName) -> # I # else if (cName names a readable, valid RNC file) and # (we have write access to path gName) and # (trang is locally installed) -> # file gName := trang's translation of file cName into RNG # else -> raise ValueError ] if suffix == RNC_SUFFIX: self.__makeRNG(cName, gName) elif suffix != RNG_SUFFIX: raise ValueError("File suffix not %s or %s: %s" % (RNC_SUFFIX, RNG_SUFFIX, suffix)) At this point we have a known good .rng version of the schema. Read that, make it into a RelaxNG instance (assuming it is valid Relax NG), and store it in self.__schema.
rnc_validate.py

#-- 3 -# if gName names a readable, valid XML file -> # doc := an et.ElementTree representing that file # else -> raise ValueError ] try: doc = et.parse(gName) except IOError, details: raise ValueError("Can't open the schema file '%s': %s" % (gName, str(details))) #-- 4 -# [ if doc is a valid RNG schema -> # self.__schema := an et.RelaxNG instance that represents # doc # else -> raise ValueError ] try: self.__schema = et.RelaxNG(doc) except et.RelaxNGParseError, details: raise ValueError("Schema file '%s' is not valid: %s" % (gName, str(details)))

15.8. RelaxValidator.__makeRNG(): Find or create an .rng file


rnc_validate.py

# - - -

R e l a x V a l i d a t o r . _ _ m a k e R N G

def __makeRNG(self, cName, gName): '''Insure that a current RNG file exists. [ (cName names an RNC file) and (gName names an RNG file) -> if (file cName is readable) and (gName names a

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

49

readable file that is newer than cName) -> I else if (cName names a readable, valid RNC file) and (we have write access to path gName) and (trang is locally installed) -> file gName := trang's translation of file cName into RNG else -> raise ValueError ] ''' First we get the modification time of the .rnc file. See Section 15.9, RelaxValidator.__getModTime(): When was this file last changed? (p. 51). If anything goes wrong, we raise a ValueError.
rnc_validate.py

#-- 1 -# [ if we can stat file (cName) -> # cTime := epoch modification timestamp of that file # else -> raise ValueError ] try: cTime = self.__getModTime(cName) except (IOError, OSError), details: raise ValueError("Can't read the RNC file '%s': %s" % (cName, str(details))) Then we try to get the modification time of the .rng file. If that file exists and the modification time is newer, we're done, because the .rng is up to date against the requested .rnc schema. If either the file doesn't exist or it's out of date, fall through to the next step.
rnc_validate.py

#-- 2 -# [ if (we can stat file (gName)) and # (that file's modification time is more recent than cTime) -> # return # else -> I ] try: gTime = self.__getModTime(gName) if gTime > cTime: return except (IOError, OSError): pass Now, try to recreate the .rng file by running the .rnc file through trang. See Section 15.10, RelaxValidator.__trang(): Translate .rnc to .rng format (p. 51).
rnc_validate.py

#-- 3 -# [ if (file (cName) is a valid RNC file) and # (we have write access to path gName) and # (trang is locally installed) -> # file (gName) := an RNG representation of file (cName) # else -> raise ValueError ] self.__trang(cName, gName)

50

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

15.9. RelaxValidator.__getModTime(): When was this file last changed?


The returned value is an epoch time, the number of seconds since January 0, 1970.
rnc_validate.py

# - - -

R e l a x V a l i d a t o r . _ _ g e t M o d T i m e

def __getModTime(self, fileName): '''Try to retrieve a file's modification timestamp. [ fileName is a string -> if fileName does not exist -> raise OSError if we can stat fileName -> return that file's modification epoch time else -> raise IOError ] ''' return os.stat(fileName)[stat.ST_MTIME]

15.10. RelaxValidator.__trang(): Translate .rnc to .rng format


We use the pexpect module's run() function to execute the trang script with command line arguments of this form: trang F.rnc F.rng That function returns the entire output of the run as a string. The output from trang is empty if the translation succeeded; otherwise it contains the error message.
rnc_validate.py

# - - -

R e l a x V a l i d a t o r . _ _ t r a n g

def __trang(self, cName, gName): '''Translate an RNC schema to RNG format. [ if (file (cName) is a valid RNC file) and (we have write access to path gName) and (trang is locally installed) -> file (gName) := an RNG representation of file (cName) else -> raise ValueError ] '''
rnc_validate.py

#-- 1 -# [ output := all output from the execution of the command # "trang (cName) (gName)" ] output = pexpect.run("trang %s %s" % (cName, gName)) #-- 2 -if len(output) > 0: raise ValueError("Could not create '%s' from '%s':/n%s" % (gName, cName, output))

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

51

16. rnck: A standalone script to validate XML against a Relax NG schema


Here we present a script that uses the rnc_validate module to validate one or more XML files against a given Relax NG schema. Command line arguments take this form: rnck schema file ... schema Names a Relax NG schema as either an .rnc file or an .rng file. file Names of one or more XML files to be validated against schema.

16.1. rnck: Prologue


Here begins the actual rnck script in literate form29. First is the usual pound-bang line to make the script self-executing under Unix-based systems, followed by an opening comment pointing back at this documentation.
rnck

#!/usr/bin/env python #================================================================ # rnck: Validate XML files against an RNC schema. # For documentation, see: # http://www.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/pylxml/ #---------------------------------------------------------------Next come module imports. We use the Python 3.x style of print statement. We need the standard Python sys module for standard I/O streams and command line arguments.
rnck

# - - - - -

I m p o r t s

from __future__ import print_function import sys We'll need the lxml.etree module to read the XML files, but we'll call it et for short.
rnck

import lxml.etree as et Finally, import the rnc_validate module described in Section 15, rnc_validate: A module to validate XML against a Relax NG schema (p. 45).
rnck

import rnc_validate

29

http://www.nmt.edu/~shipman/soft/litprog/

52

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

16.2. rnck: main()


rnck

# - - - - -

m a i n

def main(): """Validate one or more files against an RNC schema. [ if (command line arguments are valid) -> if (.rnc and .rng are readable, valid, and up to (all FILE arguments are valid against that .rng) I else (if .rnc is readable and valid and .rng can from the .rnc) and (all FILE arguments are valid against that .rng) the .rng file := an RNG version of the .rnc else -> sys.stderr +:= error message else -> sys.stderr +:= error message ] """

date) and -> be updated ->

Processing of the arguments is handled in Section 16.3, rnck: checkArgs() (p. 54). We get back two items: the path to the schema, and a list of XML file names to be validated.
rnck

#-- 1 -# [ if sys.argv is a valid command line -> # schemaPath := the SCHEMA argument # fileList := list of FILE arguments # else -> # sys.stderr +:= error message # stop execution ] schemaPath, fileList = checkArgs() Next we try to build a RelaxValidator instance from the specified schema.
rnck

#-# [ # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #

2 -if schemaPath names a readable, valid .rng schema -> return a RelaxValidator that validates against that schema else if (schemaPath, with .rnc appended if there is no extension, names a readable, valid .rnc schema) -> if the corresponding .rng schema is readable, valid, and newer than the .rnc return a RelaxValidator that validates against the .rng schema else if (we have write access to the corresponding .rng schema) and (trang is locally installed) -> corresponding .rng schema := trang's translation of the .rnc schema into .rng return a RelaxValidator that validates against translated schema else -> sys.stderr +:= error message

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

53

# stop execution ] validator = rnc_validate.RelaxValidator(schemaPath) For the logic that validates one XML file against our validator, see Section 16.7, rnck: validateFile() (p. 55).
rnck

#-- 3 -# [ sys.stderr +:= messages about any files from (fileList) that # are unreadable or not valid against (validator) ] for fileName in fileList: validateFile(validator, fileName)

16.3. rnck: checkArgs()


Argument processing is pretty basic. There must be at least two positional arguments; the first is the schema path, the rest are files to be checked.
rnck

# - - -

c h e c k A r g s

def checkArgs(): '''Check the command line arguments. [ if sys.argv is a valid command line -> return (the SCHEMA argument, a list of the FILE arguments) else -> sys.stderr +:= error message stop execution ] ''' #-- 1 -argList = sys.argv[1:] For the usage message, see Section 16.4, rnck: usage() (p. 54).
rnck

#-- 2 -if len(argList) < 2: usage("You must supply at least two arguments.") else: schemaPath, fileList = argList[0], argList[1:] #-- 3 -return (schemaPath, fileList)

16.4. rnck: usage()


See Section 16.5, rnck: fatal() (p. 55).
rnck

# - - -

u s a g e

def usage(*L) : '''Write an error message and terminate.

54

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

[ L is a list of strings -> sys.stderr +:= (concatenation of elements of L) stop execution ] ''' fatal("*** Usage:\n" "*** %s SCHEMA FILE ...\n" "*** %s" % (sys.argv[0], ''.join(L))) raise SystemExit

16.5. rnck: fatal()


Deliver the death poem, then commit seppuku. See also Section 16.6, rnck: message() (p. 55).
rnck

# - - -

f a t a l

def fatal(*L): '''Write an error message and terminate. [ L is a list of strings -> sys.stderr +:= concatenation of elements of L stop execution ] ''' message(*L) raise SystemExit

16.6. rnck: message()


rnck

# - - -

m e s s a g e

def message(*L): '''Write an error message to stderr. [ L is a list of strings -> sys.stderr +:= concatenation of elements of L ''' print(''.join(L), file=sys.stderr)

16.7. rnck: validateFile()


rnck

# - - -

v a l i d a t e F i l e

def validateFile(validator, fileName): '''Validate one file against the schema. [ validator is an rnc_validate.RelaxValidator instance -> if fileName is readable and valid against validator -> I else ->

New Mexico Tech Computer Center

Python XML processing with lxml

55

sys.stderr +:= error message ] ''' #-- 1 -# [ if fileName names a readable, well-formed XML file -> # doc := an et.ElementTree instance representing that file # else -> # sys.stderr +:= error message # return ] try: doc = et.parse(fileName) except et.XMLSyntaxError, details: message("*** File '%s' not well-formed: %s" % (fileName, str(details))) return except IOError, details: message("*** Can't read file '%s': %s" % (fileName, str(details))) return #-- 2 -# [ if doc is valid against validator -> # I # else -> # sys.stdout +:= failure report ] try: validator.validate(doc) except rnc_validate.RelaxException, details: message("*** File '%s' is not valid:\n%s" % (fileName, details))

16.8. rnck: Epilogue


rnck

# - - - - -

E p i l o g u e

if __name__ == "__main__": main()

56

Python XML processing with lxml

New Mexico Tech Computer Center